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Eur J Appl Physiol Occup Physiol. 1999 Mar;79(4):336-40.

Effects of a short-term strength training programme on lymphocyte subsets at rest in elderly humans.

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  • 1Laboratoire de Physiologie, Faculté de Médecine, Nice, France.


The effects of a short-term strength training programme on resting lymphocyte subsets and stress hormone concentrations were analysed in 32 elderly sedentary subjects. Out of these 32 subjects, 8 women and 8 men [mean age 70.1 (SEM 1.0) years] were randomly assigned to a 8-week strength training programme which consisted of three sets of eight repetitions at 80% of one repetition maximum, for leg press, bilateral leg extension and seated chest press, 3 days a week. The remaining 8 women and 8 men [mean age 70.5 (SEM 0.9) years] served as controls. Absolute counts of lymphocyte subsets (CD20+, CD3+, CD3+CD4+, CD3+CD8+, CD3-CD56+CD16+) were measured with a new technique combining fluorescent microspheres and flow cytometry. In the trained subjects, substantial increases in strength took place in one repetition maximum during the 8-week training period for leg press [from means of 20.7 (SEM 1.0) to 23.6 (SEM 1.0) N x kg(-1) LBM (lean body mass)], chest press [from means of 5.4 (SEM 0.3) to 6.2 (SEM 0.3) N x kg(-1) LBM] and bilateral leg extension [from means of 6.3 (SEM 0.2) to 7.4 (SEM 0.3) N x kg(-1) LBM] movements. Baseline cortisol concentration (P < 0.01), CD20+ cell count (P < 0.05), CD3+ cell count (P < 0.05), and CD4+ cell count (P < 0.01) decreased in both groups secondary to circannual variations between winter and summer. No significant effect of strength training on resting adrenaline, noradrenaline and cortisol concentrations or distributions of lymphocyte subsets at rest was observed. The main finding of this study was to demonstrate that 8-week is too short a duration for a strength training programme to modify counts of lymphocyte subsets at rest in elderly sedentary adults.

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